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Alexander McCall Smith

Trains and Lovers

Alexander Mccall Smith Trains And Lovers
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Biographical note:

Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, the 44 Scotland Street series and the Corduroy Mansions series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh and has served with many national and international organizations concerned with bioethics. He lives in Scotland.

Country of final manufacture:

US

Excerpt from book:

1

“I think that’s a fishing boat.”
 
It was. He saw it from the train, but not for more than a minute or two, as the line followed that bit of coastline only for a short time before it suddenly swerved off, as railway lines will do. The view of the North Sea was lost, and trees closed in; there was the blue of the sea one moment and then the blurred green of foliage rapidly passing the window; there was slanting morning sun, like an intermittent signal flashed through the trees.
 
This is the story of four people, all strangers to one another, who met on that train, and of how love touched their lives, in very different ways. Love is nothing out of the ordinary, even if we think it is; even if we idealise it, celebrate it in poetry, sentimentalise it in coy valentines. Love happens to just about everyone; it is like measles or the diseases of childhood; it is as predictable as the losing of milk teeth, or the breaking of a boy’s voice. It may visit us at any time, in our youth but also when we are much older and believe we are beyond its reach; but we are not. It has been described as a toothache, a madness, a divine intoxication—metaphors that reflect the disturbing effect it has on our lives. It may bring surprise, joy, despair and, occasionally, perfect happiness.
 
But for each person who is made happy by love, there will be many for whom it turns out to be a cause of regret. That is because it can be so fleeting; one moment it may take our breath away, the next it may leave us bereft. When it does that, love can be like a haunting, staying with us for year after year; we know that it is gone, but somehow we persuade ourselves that it is still there. The heart has more than its fair share of ghosts, and these ghosts may be love, in any of its many forms. I knew one who fell deeply in love at nineteen—smitten, overwhelmed; astonished to find that all he wanted to think about was the other; unbelieving, at first, that this had happened to him. Thirty years later, he found the person he had loved, to whom timidity, if not shame itself, had prevented him from declaring his feelings, regularly coming to him in his dreams. So much had happened in those intervening years, but none of it had been shared, as life had taken them in very different directions. Nobody would choose to be in love like that, to hold on so strongly to something that was no longer there. Yet we admire such instances of tenacity, finding nobility in loss and in the way in which some people bear it.
 
If it were not for the train journey on that day, these four would never have met. Journeys may be like that, may bring together people who would otherwise never have known of each other’s existence. In that respect, long journeys have something in common with military service or boarding school, or even the shared experience of some natural disaster. Such things bring us into contact with people we would never have encountered but for the sharing of danger or unhappiness.
 
Journeys are not only about places, they are also about people, and it may be the people, rather than the places, that we remember. Those with whom one shares a carriage on the Trans-Siberian Railway may well be remembered, even if the names of the places in which the train stops are soon lost. Of Kirov, Perm, Omsk and Ussuriysk, all of them stops on that long journe

“The best thing McCall Smith has written so far. . . . He is a virtuoso storyteller.” —The Scotsman

“Wise and witty.” —Booklist
 
“A warm, understated serving of comfort food.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“Both disarming and deeply affecting. . . . That four strangers should meet and tell such compelling stories is highly unlikely, but such is McCall Smith’s ability to draw us into his kindly world, [where] disbelief is more than willingly suspended.” —Sydney Morning Herald

“Their stories envelop us, each in its own way—we can smell the dust of the Outback and hear the gentle lap of waves against a rowboat—and they resist reducing emotion to platitudes. Love doesn’t always end happily, but even then it can end well, with hope, dignity and humanity, and that’s just what Trains and Lovers celebrates.” —The Wichita Eagle
 
“A lovely, quiet vacation that requires no packing, missed connections or meeting actual strangers on trains.” —Weekly Alibi (Albuquerque, NM)

“As each interwoven story gracefully unfolds, trains themselves play a part in the individual narrative arcs where the fleeting nature of love emerges as a unifying theme.” —Shelf Awareness
 

Praise for Alexander McCall Smith
 
“[McCall Smith’s writing is] beautifully precise and psychologically acute.” —The Independent (London)
 
“McCall Smith’s generous writing and dry humor, his gentleness and humanity, and his ability to evoke a place and a set of characters without caricature or condescension have endeared his books to readers.” —The New York Times
 
“McCall Smith creates unforgettable characters and stories that resonate with readers across generations.” —Booklist


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